Editor's note: Be sure to check in next week when Dan shares his choices for the Worst of 2010
Where did the year go? It feels like only yesterday that I was submitting my Year In Review columns for 2009. I remember struggling to find a lot of "Best of" stuff to write last year. Fortunately for all of us, 2010 had many more moments that were positive, moments that shone brightly like Tad and Dixie's Christmas star.
All My Children was at its best when Lorraine Broderick was at the wheel. I've never had the opportunity to meet Lorraine Broderick, so everything that I am about to say in this section of the column is strictly the stuff of sugarplum vision that dance in my head. Lorraine's love for All My Children was evident in every masterful stroke of her pen. Anyone who has ever watched an episode of All My Children could have tuned in to the show and known the exact episode where Broderick's influence began -- and when her last episode as head writer aired.
All My Children's 40th anniversary special was exactly that. Special. Did it include every star that fans wanted to see? Of course not. There have been hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses to grace the various fictional Pine Valley locales over the last 40 years. Still, AMC did viewers proud with some of its biggest stars running to the show to tell viewers why Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, was named the Best Town in America.
Though not nearly as festive, the tribute to James Mitchell (Palmer Cortlandt) was equally celebratory. Mitchell's passing was, of course, terribly sad for his loved ones and viewers alike. The episode that paid tribute to Mitchell's contributions to AMC was perfect from the first seconds of the show until the very end. And let's discuss the end of the episode. If having Cady McClain's Dixie welcome her Uncle Palmer "home" didn't have you sobbing like a little child, then perhaps your heart is as small as the Grinch's.
Many of my favorite storylines for the year also have an associated least favorite moment, but since this is the Best of 2010, you'll be reading about the thumbs-down aspect of the stories in next week's column.
No one wanted to lose David Canary. Canary, who has won a bushel of Daytime Emmys for his work as Adam and Stuart Chandler, decided that 2010 would be the year that he retired. While I understand his decision to want to rest, I am still harboring a grudge against him for leaving me (and millions of other viewers) Adam-less.
But if we had to lose Adam, the storyline crafted to usher him out of town couldn't have been any better. For many people, Brooke and Adam's love was legendary. When Julia Barr agreed to return to All My Children (after the show seemingly tossed her aside several years earlier after a contract dispute) it showed just how classy Julia is. Adam and Brooke's love for each other reignited, brought on, at least in part, by Palmer's death. It was believable, and I think this storyline was the sugar that helped some otherwise bitter medicine go down a little easier.
JR and Annie's unlikely love/hate relationship was another highlight of the year gone by. Like his father, JR doesn't seem to have an easy time with the ladies. It seems that the women who don't try to kill JR end up marrying him. Scratch that. Even the women who want to kill him still end up marrying him.
The setup for JR and Annie's relationship goes way back. JR hated that Annie was attempting to use her feminine wiles to dupe Adam Sr. Could there have been any better irony than that the one person that JR hated most in the world (next to David Hayward) would be the person who could save his life? Oh, but wait -- there's more! JR's planned attempt to bed Annie and run her out of town also backfired. He ended up developing feelings for the woman. Hasn't JR been in town long enough to know that any plan to have sex with someone to get rid of them or to marry someone as a "business arrangement" never works? Never. Never ever. But it sure has been fun watching the fallout.
As a runner-up, I've also enjoyed watching the too-proud twins, Natalia and Brot, struggle with their relationship. It's like a "lite" version of Oprah and Steadman's relationship -- at least in my head. We've seen Brot express that he has (or had) issues with a woman who was in a higher position of power than him. Brot found it unacceptable for a woman to ask him out. Natalia wasn't without fault either, as her stubborn streak nearly nixed everything, too.
There have been some powerful performances in 2010, two of which come with that mixed emotion sentiment that I mentioned earlier in the column.
Debbi Morgan has been a powerhouse in Angie's blind-and-pregnant storyline. While the plot didn't always work, Morgan made the best of the material. The moments when Angie questioned her faith were so powerful -- that I am sure she'll be considered for an Emmy. What made these scenes so great, at least for me, was the realness involved. How many of us don't have those talks with God when something goes wrong? You know, promising to be a better person if He helps get us out of a jam. A standout moment in the plot came when Angie asked why her sight, the thing that allows her to do God's work by healing, was what had been taken from her.
Alicia Minshew also brought it home by the end of the year. I don't know where she went in her head to deliver the post-Zach's death performances, but wherever it was -- it made for some amazing viewing. There were several moments that stick with me as highlights -- Kendall, having called Zach's cell phone to hear his voice, collapsed outside of her bedroom... unable to go inside. There was also the courtroom confrontation between Kendall and David. I don't know if Alicia's personal affection for Thorsten Kaye factored into her performances, but all I can say is, "Brava!"
While we're still in the courthouse, was there any better surprise than David Hayward popping up very-much-alive after Greenlee was sentence to spend the rest of her natural life in jail for his murder? We've already chatted amongst each other about whether or not we believed David was dead, but there is no denying that no one knew exactly when he'd show up. Only one thing would have made this storyline twist even better -- if I had been able to see all the expressions on AMC fans' faces when David did pop up. With millions of jaws on the floor, it would have made for a great Christmas card.
All My Children's Christmas card looks decidedly different this year. Instead of the skyscrapers and concrete of New York, the show is now palm trees and beaches in its new Los Angeles home. I have no idea how one moves an entire production across the country, but somehow they did it. And as an added bonus, the show is now being aired in high-definition. That is not to say that there were not some hiccups.
There is no better gift, though, than knowing that All My Children will continue to air every weekday. Through good episodes and bad, through those moments when we may want to throttle the show's entire writing team, it's important to remain thankful that this nearly 41-year-old institution will still be there to welcome us. I don't know, but I've become quite attached to those make-believe people that make things in Pine Valley so darned interesting. So here's to another 40 years filled with drama and love, not only on-screen, but here online with each other. Knowing that you all tune in each week to read my column is certainly one of the "Best Of"s of any calendar year.